RAE Systems Joins Fire Smoke Coalition to Help Protect Atlanta Firefighters and First Responders in Smoke Inhalation Situations

“Know Your Smoke” Symposium to Conduct Live Burn Training for Atlanta-Area First Responders

Atlanta – February 17, 2012 – RAE Systems Inc., a leading provider of toxic gas monitoring systems, will collaborate with the Fire Smoke Coalition to deliver the “Know Your Smoke” Symposium for firefighters, EMTs and paramedics in the Atlanta area, February 24-25, 2012. The event will take place at the Cobb County Department of Public Safety Training Center in Marietta, Georgia. It will provide free training focused on preventing fire smoke exposure, how to detect toxicants in every fire scene and how to appropriately treat the exposure if it occurs.  

Toxic gas monitoring systems are an essential life-saving component of fire department equipment. The “Know Your Smoke” event will educate firefighters and first responders on their effective use to avoid the dangerous health effects of smoke inhalation. Leading experts on hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO) smoke toxicology will speak in a classroom setting.

The second day of the free conference will be spent teaching firefighters how to conduct atmospheric monitoring at every fire scene through practical burn training exercises while burning household items such as plastics, foams, synthetics, laminates and roofing materials. Interested parties can register for this first-responder training event online at http://www.firesmokevss.org/attend/.

The “Know Your Smoke” event offers invaluable education on occupational safety and the dangerous health effects of smoke exposure. Focus areas include the following:

  • Fire Smoke: Perceptions, Myths and Misunderstandings
  • Air Management and NFPA 1404
  • Atmospheric Monitoring for HCN/CO – The Toxic Twins
  • Pre-hospital HCN Assessment and Antidotal Treatment
  • Proper usage of toxic gas monitoring systems, with a focus on HCN and CO

“More education is needed regarding the dangers of smoke inhalation and most important – how to treat it as a significant illness. Across this country firefighters are dropping dead from heart attacks and cancers in large part due to the toxicants and soot inhaled from fire smoke throughout their careers.  For civilians it’s even worse and statistics substantiate that fact,” said Shawn Longerich, executive director of the Fire Smoke Coalition. “We know all smoke inhalation victims cannot be saved.  But we also know that if cyanide is not considered as a toxicant in the face of smoke inhalation, and the appropriate cyanide antidote administered, we’ll never know whether that patient could have survived. Sadly, just this week, two young sisters were transported from Lamar County to an Atlanta hospital in critical condition, suffering from smoke inhalation and one has died.

“This free training will equip Georgia-based firefighters and first responders with the safety and medical information they need to safely work tactical fireground operations for self-protection and how to appropriately treat smoke inhalation victims in their communities,” Longerich added.

Smoke-related Injuries Increase  
In the United States, residential fires are the third leading cause of fatal injury and the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury death, yet the majority of fire-related fatalities are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation.  Despite the amount of fires in the U.S. decreasing each year, the amount of civilians dying in fires is actually increasing.  For example, in 2009, 1,348,500 fires were attended by public fire departments, a decrease of 7.1 percent from the year before; however, 3,010 civilian fire deaths occurred, which is an increase of 9.3 percent.1

In fire smoke, hydrogen cyanide can be up to 35 times more toxic than carbon monoxide,2 an underappreciated risk that can cause severe injury or death within minutes.3 ,4   In a review of major fires over a 19-year period, cyanide was found at toxic-to-lethal levels in the blood of approximately 33 percent to 87 percent of fatalities.5  

Learn More, See More

  • Register for the Fire Smoke Symposium training event for first-responders HERE
  • Watch a short video to learn more about the Fire Smoke Symposium HERE
  • Watch videos on previous Fire Smoke training sessions and RAE Systems CO gas detectors and HCN gas detectors
    (HERE and HERE)

About Fire Smoke Coalition
The Fire Smoke Coalition is comprised of leaders in the fire service. The mission of the Fire Smoke Coalition is to focus the required attention and resources on the deadly and life-long consequences of breathing fire smoke by teaching firefighters and first responders how to Prevent, Protect, Detect, Diagnose, and appropriately treat the exposure if it occurs. Learn more at www.firesmoke.org.

About RAE Systems  
RAE Systems innovates, designs and manufacturers gas sensors and radiation detectors. The company offers a full line of fixed gas detection and portable gas detection solutions, including handheld and personal chemical, compound and radiation detection instruments. RAE Systems’ proven real-time safety and threat detection systems have been deployed by world leaders in the oil and gas, fire and hazmat, industrial safety, national security and environmental markets, helping save lives and maintain safety in 120 countries. The company’s industry-leading gas sensors and radiation detection solutions are widely recognized for their performance and reliability. RAE Systems is based in Silicon Valley. Learn more at http://www.raesystems.com.


1 United States Fire Administration; Fire Loss in the United States in 2009; Michael J. Karter.

2 Tuovinen H, Blomqvist P. Modeling of hydrogen cyanide formation in room fires. Brandforsk project 321-011. SP Report 2003:10. Böras, Sweden: SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute; 2003.

3 Guidotti T. Acute cyanide poisoning in prehospital care: new challenges, new tools for intervention. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2006;21(2):S40-S48.

4 Eckstein M, Maniscalco PM. Focus on smoke inhalation – the most common cause of acute cyanide poisoning.  Prehosp  Disaster Med. 2006;21(2):S49-S55.

5 Alarie Y. Toxicity of fire smoke. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2002;32(4):259-289.